Category Archives: things I’ve learned

Great and American and Novel. All together.

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I just recently finished reading James Rollins’ book The Blood Gospel. I love James Rollins. My problem with James Rollins is that I read one book and I crave more James Rollins. That’s how I love him. I can’t get enough of him. But I’m out of him right now. And since I’m avoiding work and I’m not near a really good library…not going to happen for a while. Ugh, there’s a void in my life now. (Yes, I’m being dramatic.) Yes, there are religious things in this book but if you read it, which I recommend everyone does because it’s James freaking Rollins, take some of the religious things with a grain of salt. But it didn’t disappoint. I want to read the rest in the series. I know I read over 600 closer to 700 pages of this series with just this one book but I want more.

Right now, I am about to start reading The Great Gatsby. It’s my first Fitzgerald. I know it might be a little bit generic for my first Fitzgerald. I probably should be reading The Beautiful and the Damned, which I have on my Nook but haven’t gotten to. (And FYI I’d rather have a real copy of it. Anyone wanting to donate any books. I’m down.) And people have told me to start with The Beautiful and the Damned. I’m just being a rebel. Historically, I have had people upset with me because I haven’t read Fitzgerald. Not in high school lit or college lit classes. No Fitzgerald. Yay North Dakota education system. So because I am fascinated by authors and where books came from and why, I did my research.

Things that I did know: he was in deep love with his wife. (The Great Gatsby is dedicated ‘Once Again To Zelda’. I mean this was his third novel.) From what my friends have said, I want to be Zelda Fitzgerald. Like he was romantic and she has books where she’s the basis of a character. I want to positively immortalized in a book. He did something to do with the first world war.

Things that I found out with reading: He was born in Minnesota, though did not stay there. I like Mid-western authors. Leif Enger being one of them. If you haven’t read him, try him. Not everyone’s cup of tea but interesting. He was seen as handsome, thought definitely not my type. He went to Princeton. Fitzgerald was commissioned a second lieutenant in the infantry and assigned to Camp Sheridan outside of Montgomery, Alabama. It was there that he met and fell in love with a beautiful 18-year-old girl named Zelda Sayre, the daughter of an Alabama Supreme Court judge. The war ended before Fitzgerald was deployed. The Beautiful and the Damned was his second novel, I thought it was his first but lie.

After Gatsby, Fitzgerald became more of an alcoholic and his wife Zelda had some issues with mental breakdowns. And she was admitted to a mental health clinic in Switzerland for a while. Fitzgerald died at the age of 44, believing he was a failure. On a personal level, get that. There’s a lot more of Fitzgerald. Click to find out more and to find where I got a lot of my information.

I went on GoodReads today to mark that I was reading Gatsby. I scrolled down to see who’s read it and what they thought of it. I’m a failure. Most everyone I know has read this. There are 24 reviews. Out of 60 people I’m friends with on GoodReads, maybe not so bad but still. I’m kind of a failure. With a degree in English Lit, I should have read this book before. Or at least Fitzgerald. They’re mostly good reviews and there are some of my friends that have marked it to read so I’m not completely alone. And I do think I have to put in a disclaimer that I have seen the DiCaprio version of the book. (DAMN DiCaprio hasn’t gotten the recognition anywhere. My kids in Hungary even know it. When I asked what you associate with the Emmys they say, “Not Leonardo DiCaprio”.) So it’s not like I don’t know the general story. (And if we’re using movies as the pure basis for judgment of the novel version, we’re in trouble.) I was going to start reading this last night but I was really tired after running after my brother’s kids for a while. (“It’s not kicking, it’s hitting with feet.” Where do they come up with that?) So I got like a page in and was like, yeah…no. I’m sleeping. From what I can see, Fitzgerald isn’t mindless. I have to put more thought into it than a modern novel. It was also written in another era so I can’t go into it thinking that the vernacular is going to be natural to me. I could, and have, go off about vernacular and how language has seem to go down hill in recent times but I won’t now. It’s refreshing though to read a book where it makes me concentrate, which Gatsby will do. This isn’t a long book. My copy, published by Scribner Paperback Fiction and was bought for $3.80 at a used book store last year, has 222 pages starts on page 5 and ends on page 189. So that’s 184 pages of story.

There is a great emphasis in this book about the American Dream. Which, for me, is different for me now after being overseas for a year. But I’ll talk about that in the review.

After reading a few reviews on GoodReads, which we all know is the literary Bible, (sarcasm. I point that out because not many people get my sarcasm.) people say that this is the best American novel ever. I’m skeptical. Anyone that says that anything is the best ever, I’m not sure I believe it. But at the same time, my expectations are high. Expectations are high because the people that have told me good things about Fitzgerald are people I respect deeply. If this book disappoints, it’s going to be an epic disappointal. And people will hear about it. This isn’t a long book so the review shouldn’t be to far away.

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Re-Entry is Making Me a Horrible Person.

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Warning: This is going to be a re-entry post and it’s going to be emotion driven. If this offends anyone, please remember that I’m not trying to offend or scare anyone from experiencing another culture. I’m just hitting brick walls every which way I turn and I need an outlet.

When I made the decision to go overseas for a year, it was only going to be for a year unless God told me something different. Starting from basically last February when my original company went under, it’s been, I feel, very dramatic and tumultuous. So I’ve felt that it was time to come home and not go back. The last 2 days I was in Hungary, I keep deep sighing. Like this is almost over. Sigh. I have to travel and I’m not a great traveler. Sigh. I have made acquaintances and built relationships, which I was supposed to do being with a Christian non-prof company, and I have to leave them. Sigh. Where is my life going? Sigh.

I have been back exactly 12 days. Not home home but in the states for 12 days. I knew that there would be reverse culture shock, that I had to give myself time and that a lot of people wouldn’t really understand how overwhelmed that re-entry can be. I also knew that there would be an expectation that I would continue to be who I was before I left and that my reverse culture shock would be over within days. It’s not. I’m so much more angry now. It seems that I have more attitude, my sarcasm is out in full angry, bitchy force. Even my inappropriate, insensitive jokes have been on the rise. Being that I feel that this whole experience has been rocky, I can’t stop this from happening. No matter how hard I try, it’s happening. And depending on who I’m dealing with, these emotions and how I’m reacting to things, makes me feel like a horrible person and it’s been hard to dispute that I’m not a horrible person. I have been horrible to people who haven’t deserved it and I can’t help it. I start with good intentions and then end up being horribly sarcastic or having an attitude and starting fights. Then at the end of everything, they feel like the ass. This shouldn’t be happening.

But it is. And I have no where to turn to. I feel like I’ve complained so much in the past year to so many people. I feel like I have given up the right permanently to ever say anything bad about my life ever again. I’m not the person who complains. I shouldn’t be complaining how I’m having a hard time keeping up with conversations, how the words aren’t coming like they used to, how I can’t find anything or do anything normally anymore. I shouldn’t want to be back in a country where I’ve had probably the toughest year of my life. I shouldn’t be sobbing about how I’ve wrecked certain situations. I should be fixing them. But I’m not. It’s all building up and making me worse.

And it’s hard to cry with people. I’ve never been a crier. If I had to cry, historically it was in complete privacy. That’s just how my family works. To me, personally, I wasn’t going to have people see a weakness or see how silly some of the things I was crying over were. (trust me, some of the reasons were silly.) I cried a lot over in Hungary and it wasn’t always for me. I cried with people, in front of people and for people. Some tears were for me, or for a friend, or in mourning or for a relationship. I get home and where do I cry? Who do I cry with?

The last couple days, especially, all I have wanted is to be alone. No other people in any way. Not physically, phone, text, social media. Nothing. All I want to do is be by myself and exist. I know that it’s probably not going to help me any in all of this, so I’ve tried a little. It hasn’t been good. It makes me want to retreat more. Being a hermit is looking more and more good. For me and for others. Again making me feel horrible.

I have been trying to keep a strong front. I feel like it’s crumbling. All I want is normal and not to be a horrible person. I should be able to pull myself together and be a strong person for myself and for others like I usually do. My life isn’t that horrible that I should fall apart. But it’s not what’s happening. I have been having conversations with God lately about this whole situation. I’ve talked to Him about all this and asked other questions. I’ve asked why is this so hard. Why does it feel like You’re taking this relationship away from me? Why? So far, no answers.

But I am trying. I keep telling people that. I’m trying, I’m working on it. Sometimes it might not seem like it but I am. I’m a work in progress.

Few Thoughts on Leaving Hungary.

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I come back to the states in 6 days. There’s so much emotion that goes into that one sentence. But this year has made me more emotional than I ever have before. I think when you’re living overseas (especially when you’re a single woman), emotions are amplified by a million. I’m extremely excited to leave, completely sad that I’m leaving. I’m scared for numerous reasons and dreading traveling. I’m in the process of getting things done and getting the last few things. But sitting here, writing. I’m getting the anxious pit in my stomach. I know with how rough these last 10 months have been, a lot of people won’t understand my hesitation for leaving. But no one has really seen the whole story. No one has seen the little moments. Or heard the questions and one liners that were so perfectly spoken by my students. Or had the bonding moments (superficial or not) with the random people that have been a huge part of my life for 300 days. No one knows how many times I’ve asked myself why am I here or the times I’ve thought, this is why I’m here. Yes, I have consciously been aware of how long it will be until I go home in the sense that I will be going back to a place I’ve known my whole life. But now I am also consciously aware of how Budapest has a piece of my heart and that I will leave a little bit of me here and have that hole replaced with Hungary.

There’s still a lot of pain in me. There’s been big events that I’ve missed back home, I’ve practically ruined one of the best friendships I’ve ever had. I’m going to carry those things with me for the rest of my life. There’s a lot of guilt. I can’t change what’s been done or said. I get that. I wish I could change some things though but I knew that coming to Hungary meant that life was going to be tough and life was going to be real and I was going to miss things and relationships would change. Sometimes terminate. (None of my relationships have terminated. Don’t worry. Some have changed dramatically and you know who you are and I’m sorry. I’m trying.) But the thing is, I’ve never been a completely open person. I keep my emotions to myself so that other people can hurt. Until this year, that’s worked for me. I was able to deal under these circumstances. But this year, with emotions amplified, I can’t function like that. I won’t be able to function like I used to for a long time, if ever. I would have eventually come to that point without Hungary but moving here sped it up. I’m sure a lot of people have noticed a change in my blog. I’m writing a lot differently. I need to. I’m sure eventually I’ll get back to writing like I used to, but now this blog is more self-centered. Because I need to throw whatever is in me out into the universe. I can’t leave what’s going on in me inside. It’s why I’ve started journaling like crazy. It helps me get the emotion out.

I don’t know what people expect of me. I know some people will expect me to be the same Megan I’ve always been. I’m not. As much as I fake it, I’m not. There’s a lot more anxiety and much more insecurity and less confidence in some areas. There has been a lot of tears this year from me and there’s going to be a lot more. I’ve cried and will cry for other people and for me. But there will be people that understand. Mainly those who have experienced this themselves. Some others too but it will be harder for them to understand why more than one native English speaker is overwhelming or why going to a restaurant or going to a grocery store with more than one or two options is overwhelming. It’s a special circumstance I’m in, but I’ll get through it.

Yesterday was the last technical day of teaching. I didn’t do anything. One class gave me a picture of them and chocolate. They told me they loved me. I love them too. I didn’t expect to love these kids and this country as much as I do. I expected love but not this deep. It’s a reason I don’t want to leave. I have laughed and cried with and for these kids. How do I move on from that? How does anyone move on from that? I get told by people who have gone back after living overseas for a time and they tell me to give myself some time to heal and don’t put a time limit on it. Leaving in under a week, I realize that I will never completely heal from Hungary and I don’t want to. This country has helped shape me in a way that no one has expected.

Learnage

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I leave Budapest in 42 days. Done with school in 39. I have a lot planned fun and more business days. Here’s things I realized or learned.

1. I’m scared. I’m not sure how I’m going to react to “re-entry”. I’ve been reading some about this and have been talking a little about this with people. For those of you who don’t know what re-entry is, it’s when a person goes back to their own culture. Adjusting to Hungary was an interesting transition and though I think it wasn’t a big deal, it was. Re-entry will be a big deal too. I was talking to my boss last week via Skype. During this conversation I got a little nervous. I started to read articles about re-entry. This one is my favorite because it describes how I feel. I realize that I am going to have a hard time with family gatherings. It’s going to be a place in time that I feel like I’m going to be asked and feel obligated to tell everything and I don’t want to.  I also feel like my family is going to be expecting me to be normal and I’m not. I’m changed. But it’s a process and I can’t rush it.

2. I have a love/hate relationship with Hungary. I have 4 different days. 1. I love Hungary. 2. I hate Hungary 3. I could take it or leave it. 4. I question everything. It goes from day to day how I feel and sometimes how I feel differs with the parts of the day. Sunday I loved Hungary and Monday I hated it.

3. I have a passion for one on one relationships. I knew this before but it’s more in me than before.

4. I go inside more. I do that more now. Something happens and I go inside. And I feel myself pulling away from friendships more. It’s my defense mechanism. I did this before Hungary but I do it way more now.

5. I feel emotions more. Living over seas makes things more intense. That’s my life right now and I hate it. Back home, I’m usually private. To the point I get uncomfortable talking about my emotions and usually push emotions aside. Here I feel emotions 100% more than I’m used to and it’s not in my comfort zone.

There’s more and there’s more details. Obviously. I have spent almost 9 months here, there’s going to be a list. I just wanted to give people a short list or an insight on what I’m learning.

And let it be known that there are things going on in life back home that I am not comfortable talking about. It also deals with a person that I talk about regularly here on the blog. And it’s hard being here in Hungary when they’re back there hurting.